The Blood Language of Love and Righteousness: Part 2: The Blood of Abel Speaks
Dad, Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel – The earliest church
Adam, Even, Cain and Abel formed in a sense the earliest church as a family of God. God was Adam’s dad so they were a literal family in God. As brothers Cain and Abel were to love and care for each other. “Love” was to define this new family unit of God.
Cain and Abel worked. Abel being a shepherd is spiritually significant as it teaches one to care and guide others in love. Sheep go astray and are vulnerable and it’s a shepherd’s job to lead them in the right path. The cattle would have been raised for clothing as eating non-veg was only instituted after the flood. So Cain had an important job to work the ground so it produced some or all that was required to feed the family.
Jesus includes Abel’s names among the prophets.
“so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:50-51 ESV)
Though the text omits Abel’s interaction with God as a prophet it may be possible God spoke to Abel like he did to Enoch:
“Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about these people when he said, “Look! The Lord has come with countless thousands of his holy ones.” (Jude 1:14 ISV)
Reading a bit more into the text, the story seems to resemble that of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was a dreamer and far more spiritual that his brothers. Further being his father’s favourite he was a real pain for his brothers. Lets get a little insight into Joseph’s thinking:
|Judah (elder)||Joseph (younger)|
|When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”(Genesis 38:15-16ESV)||And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.(Genesis 39:10ESV)|
|They saw him from a distance. Before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. They said to each other, “Look, here comes that master dreamer! Let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and say that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what happens to his dreams.” (Genesis 37:18-20 GW)…Judah asked his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother and covering up his death? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not hurt him, because he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. (Genesis 37:26-27 GW)||Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, he hurried away, looking for a place to cry. He went into his private room and cried there.(Genesis 43:30 GW)…Joseph could no longer control his emotions in front of everyone who was standing around him, so he cried out, “Have everyone leave me!” No one else was there when Joseph told his brothers who he was.(Genesis 45:1 GW)|
Cain and Abel’s offerings – A closer look
Abel is chiefly remembered for his faith: ”By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did, and by it he was declared to be righteous, since God himself accepted his offerings. And by faith he continues to speak, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4 ISV)
Cain and Abel were both worshipers of the true God.
Question: How did Abel have more faith than his brother Cain? Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
There are two directions we can take to answer this question:
- Abel’s offering consisted of Blood and therefore would have been the prescribed way to offer. Cain should have humbled himself to get the offering from Abel to please God.
- Cain and Abel acknowledged God is the creator and sustainer of all good things and brought out of their own good things portions to the Lord. Abel seems to have done this in the right spirit and hence by faith, while Cain seems to have done it not from the heart.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” (Proverbs 15:8 ESV)“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. (Amos 5:21-22ESV)
The text is not very explicit … let us analyze a bit further
Cain’s Grain offering – A closer look
If Cain and Abel were told to explicitly offer “flock and their fat portions” then clearly Cain disobeyed and went about to create his own worship system based on his works. He should have gone to Abel to fetch the offering and then should have offered it to the Lord. Unfortunately the Genesis record is too brief and we have to glean from whatever details the scriptures give in this regard.
Not all offerings under the law required blood. The “Grain” offering was also an offering instituted by God. Leviticus 2 details how one may offer this to the Lord:
The LORD continued, “Now, if any of you bring a grain offering to the LORD, your offering must be flour. Pour olive oil on it, and put incense on it. (Leviticus 2:1 GW)
The priest will remove part of the grain offering and burn it as a reminder on the altar. It is an offering by fire, a soothing aroma to the LORD. The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons. It is very holy, set apart from the LORD’S offering by fire.
(Leviticus 2:9-10 GW)
“Every grain offering that you bring to the LORD must be prepared without yeast. Never burn yeast or honey as an offering to the LORD. (Leviticus 2:11 GW)
You may bring them to the LORD as offerings of your first products. But they must never be placed on the altar to make a soothing aroma. Also put salt on each of your grain offerings. The salt of God’s promise must never be left out of your grain offerings. Put salt on all your offerings. (Leviticus 2:12-13 GW)
We can never be sure if Cain received such detailed instructions regarding the correct procedures for making his grain offerings.
The Blood Language of Abel – Righteousness and Love
|“fruit of the ground”||“firstlings of his flock”||
Not an offering for Sin but one of firstfruits.
Abel had cattle and when they produced/multiplied he brought the “FIRST” of the young ones.
The text does not indicate that Cain’s offering were indeed the first fruits. Hmmm… it may have been… as it explicitly does not mention first fruits it may not have been. The Law was very explicit about the usage of the word “fristfruits”:
“And when you begin harvesting each of your crops, the very first things you pick must be put in a basket. Take them to the place where the LORD your God chooses to be worshiped,” (Deuteronomy 26:2 CEV)
“We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks;” (Nehemiah 10:35-36 ESV)
The point of the argument is this: Abel did not bring a sin or trespass offering which required blood. Though in one instance fine flour was also accepted as a sin offering:
“when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.” (Leviticus 5:5-7, 11 ESV)
It is important to note that salvation does not lie in certain rituals but in faith. Even if Cain had brought the exact same offering and his heart was not right he would not have won favour with God. Cain and Abel brought thanksgiving offerings. Cain’s heart was not right. We see later the contents of his heart: it incited him to murder the brother he hated. He was a “hater” of his brother and chose not to “love” his brother. Abel on the other hand was committed, righteous and innocent.
Faith & Love are the key ingredients of an acceptable sacrifice:
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:14-16 ESV)
|The Elder brother||The Younger brother||
We are in the church, our brothers’ keepers
The real issue:
You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other. (1 John 3:10 CEV)
Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the devil and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? He did it because his brother was good, and he was evil. (1 John 3:12 CEV)
Cain being the elder and firstborn would have naturally felt “right of way” over Abel. This is OK but he lacked brotherly love.
Cain was EVIL.
Cain’s heart was not RIGHT.
He lacked brotherly love a fundamental requirement from a child of God. He was selfish.
His brother Abel had the solution to right and acceptable sacrifice. ABEL had brotherly love. Cain’s heart could not accept this.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:14-15 ESV)
He could not stand the fact that his younger brother was right. His ego was so huge that it led to murder.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9 ESV)
Cain was Abel’s keeper as an elder brother, but was blinded to do evil. We are in the church, our brothers’ keepers.
|Cain the tenant||Abel the good shepherd||
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16 ESV)
Abel by way of his life and eventually his sacrifice taught and demonstrated the righteous way. His actions demonstrated obedience and trust in his God. Abel’s life produced fruits pleasing to the LORD. He was a guide and shepherd though younger of the two.
Cain the elder but weaker of the two spiritually needed to be shepherded to God by Abel.
Cain could not handle God’s rejection. He was blinded by ego and could not see that God was correcting him. Rather than take positive feedback he could not stand the fact that his “younger” and “worthless” brother had scored more points with God. He was focussed not on correction but revenge. He could not handle correction – he was angry. He was mad. He was a sinner not willing to accept wrong and change.
In fact God approached and reasoned with him before the murder. He gave him opportunity to change:
“The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7 ESV)
Interesting how God describes SIN: “a crouching beast ready to strike”.
Cain like the tenants in the parable of the tenants of the vineyard couldn’t care much to to do right. Sin was his master. When shown the right way by way of Abel’s offering he could not stand it. Rather than adopt the right way of sacrifice he choose to not only reject the right way of doing things but also to put an end to it.
Cain is like the Pharisees who “plotted” and killed Jesus. The Pharisees could not stand Jesus. They were JEALOUS that he was “more” popular because of his teachings and miracles. The solution was to kill the opponent.
“And Cain said to his brother, Let us go into the field: (Genesis 4:8 BBE)
Jesus decided to leave Judea and to start going through Galilee because the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. (John 7:1 CEV)
Cain struggled with emotions such as anger, ego, jealousy, hatred which God had asked him to “master”. Unfortunately becoming a slave of sin killed his brother.
|The killer||The martyr:||
The Blood of Abel speaks:
Abel’s blood is the earliest testimony of righteousness and faithfulness. This would repeat in history till Jesus’ and beyond (Example Stephen).
God did not intervene though Abel’s blood cried out to God (figure of speech):
“And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10 ESV)
○ The FAT of his offering: Abel gave his Best!
○ The Blood of his offering: The cost of righteousness in a wicked world! Abel’s life was an sweet aroma to God as Abel loved righteousness and did not stray to the wicked way. God loved Abel and will richly reward him in the age to come.
|Does Cain get a second chance?||Cain is kicked out further than his dad but not killed. In fact he gets refuge from God as if he had reached a city of refuge. A city of refuge was designed for manslaughter and not murder.Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. (Genesis 4:15 ESV)Did Cain change? Cain in the rest of the scriptures is only remembered for his evil doing rather than repentance:Whatever these people don’t understand, they insult. Like animals, which are creatures of instinct, they use whatever they know to destroy themselves. How horrible it will be for them! They have followed the path of Cain. They have rushed into Balaam’s error to make a profit. They have rebelled like Korah and destroyed themselves. (Jude 1:10-11 GW)|